Saturday, April 20, 2013

          Committed to Diversity: Elizabeth Aakhus '11, Serving the Rural Poor

          As a teenager growing up in Bakersfield, Elizabeth Aakhus ’11 was determined to get as far away from the Central Valley as possible. “I knew that if I didn’t work hard, I wouldn’t get out,” she says. For the majority of her friends and classmates, this was the case, and it was nearly the case for her.

          In her senior year of high school, she was suspended; her offense was talking back to a school police officer and refusing to follow instructions. The way Aakhus sees it now, this experience was the exception rather than the rule.

          “I got the suspension removed from my record because my parents advocated for me,” she says. “That was when I saw the gross disparities in how schools mete out punishment, especially to people who do not have someone fighting for them. This experience was a key factor in my decision to become a public interest lawyer.”

          Aakhus enrolled at NYU and went on to UC Hastings, where she took advantage of many hands-on opportunities. She joined two student organizations that offered direct client contact, the General Assistance Advocacy Project and Homeless Legal Services, and enrolled in the Civil Justice Clinic. “In the clinic, I learned how to work one-on-one with clients,” she says, “but more importantly, I learned how challenging it can be for people to gain access to lawyers, especially people who are living below the poverty line.”

          In 2011, she was awarded the Ralph Santiago Abascal Fellowship, a yearlong award given to a UC Hastings student to pursue antipoverty and civil rights work. Aakhus joined the Delano office of California Legal Rural Assistance (CLRA), an organization dedicated to improving the lives of the state’s rural poor, where she is now a staff attorney. She focused her fellowship on education equity issues, specifically on the disproportionate impact that school discipline has on students of color.

          “My challenge has been to make sure that parents and youth know their rights,” she says. “Education is such an important way to counteract the effects of poverty, and it’s gratifying to help kids stay on track and have opportunities to advance.”

          Read more UC Hastings Magazine.

          Go to News Archive

          Share this Story

          Share via Facebook
          Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

          Other Recent Stories/ RSS

          Friday, April 20, 2018

          UC Hastings Demonstration Gardens Continues Its Legacy at McCoppin Hub and Throughout the Community

          As the Demonstration Gardens makes room for a new LEED Platinum academic building at 333 Golden Gate Avenue, it remains a part of the UC Hastings community and fortifies the tradition of sustainability for the Long Range Campus Plan.
          Friday, April 20, 2018

          UC Hastings Trial Team Wins National Championship

          3Ls Pablo Wudka-Robles, Maryam Ahmad, Jon Davidi, and 2L Ellie Barczak outperformed the other regional winners to emerge victorious at the AAJ National Student Trial Advocacy Competition in Raleigh, North Carolina.
          Thursday, April 19, 2018

          Matt Edling '07 Is Suing Big Oil Over Climate Change

          A groundbreaking ruling in the lawsuits he filed on behalf of California cities and counties may allow climate liability cases to be heard in state courts.
          Thursday, April 19, 2018

          Shadowy World of Drug Pricing—An Inside Look

          New research by University of California Hastings Law Professor Robin Feldman shines light on the highly secretive world of drug prices, including hidden payments, rebates, and inducements that drive the system toward higher-priced drugs.
          Monday, April 16, 2018

          UC Hastings Students Debrief after Spring Break Visit to Immigration Detention Center

          Students share their experience volunteering with the Karnes Pro Bono Project to help provide free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant women and children at the Karnes County Residential Center near San Antonio, Texas.
          Go to News Archive